I have a loved friend who tells me
his mother was the architect
of his soul.
When she died,
he slept on the very spot of her deathbed,
on the bare floor since he felt closer to her
during the first days before
she passed into deep heaven;
and he gave her ashes back to the earth
as water bitter as the Salt Sea poured out of his eyes
until he was dry as a bone.
His grief drove him into the wilderness
where he hoped some painted wild man or strange adept
would tell him something of the path she traveled,
and if he would see her again.
When he learned that Herod had killed
the children of David’s Bethlehem
and some of the mothers protecting them
(my niece and her first-born were there),
my friend said,
How could that fox have killed the poor mothers?
I said to him,
There are secret things
When my mother died, I held her in my arms
and closed her slackened mouth,
my heart dry
--from David Austell's forthcoming book length poem, The Tin Man on the biblical Character, Joseph.